Chiefs down the Blues
The Blues suffered their third Super Rugby defeat on the trot after going down 23-16 to the Chiefs at Mount Maunganui on Saturday.
The victory takes the defending champions to the top of the standings and can stay there if the Bulls do them a favour and beat the Brumbies.
In his first match against his former team, former Blues pivot Gareth Anscombe provided 13 points with the boot and converted tries to Richard Kahui and Ben Tameifuna.
The Blues, who trailed 9-6 at half-time, bagged a consolation try through wing George Moala which is also ensured a losing bonus point for Sir John Kirwan's troops.
In a bruising encounter, Anscombe and Chris Noakes traded penalties in a try-less but entertaining first half.
The Blues failed to take advantage when the Chiefs were reduced to 14 players after centre Bundee Aki was yellow-carded for a reckless tackle on opposite number Rene Ranger.
Instead, the 14-man Chiefs came close when Anscombe's try was disallowed by the TMO after Chiefs lock Michael Fitzgerald was ruled offside in forcing the turnover at an earlier breakdown.
The Chiefs finally broke through the Blues' rock-solid defence when replacement prop Tameifuna powered over from close range after the break. Anscombe's conversion took the Chiefs out to a 16-6 lead.
Kahui was then rewarded for his hard work when he charged down Francis Saili's kick, recovered the loose ball inside the Blues' 22 and raced in untouched for a try besides the posts. Once again, Anscombe's nailed the conversion, and the Chiefs were in a commanding 23-6 lead.
The visitors finally breached the unrelenting Chiefs defence for their first try of the match when Moala touched down after 78 minutes, with Baden Kerr's conversion making sure they didn't leave empty-handed.
Tries: Tameifuna, Kahui
Cons: Anscombe 2
Pens: Anscombe 3
Pens: Noakes 3
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Patrick Osborne.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)